Defend Asylum for Survivors of Trafficking

  • by: Women's Funding Network
  • target: Mr. Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security; Mr. Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General
"Ann" (not her real name) is a young Albanian woman who, at age 16, was kidnapped, raped and targeted for prostitution. She managed to escape to the United States, but our government has refused her request to stay in this country because she filed her application for asylum one month after the deadline. We're asking the government to let her stay and to change the rule they're using to send her back.

When Ann turned in her request for asylum, she was only 17 years old, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Immigration Judge said that she would not be eligible for asylum anyway because her kidnap, rape and threatened sale into prostitution were merely "personal" and "criminal" acts by a rejected suitor. Overwhelming evidence shows, however, that the man who kidnapped her treated her the way traffickers prepare their victims to be trafficked.

U.S. Women Without Borders is working with the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies to win justice for Ann and others in her position. Take action now to ensure that Ann is not sent back into the hands of her persecutors. Protest the one-year deadline for minors. Demand that our government protect victims of trafficking by giving them asylum in this country.
Subject: Grant Asylum to Albanian Trafficking Victim

Mr. Alberto Gonzales
Department of Justice

Mr. Michael Chertoff
Department of Homeland Security

Dear Secretary Chertoff and Attorney General Gonzales:

I am deeply concerned about the denial of asylum to "Ann," a young Albanian woman who was targeted for prostitution, kidnapped and repeatedly raped at age 16. She managed to escape to the United States, but was denied asylum because she filed her application one month after the one-year filing deadline, when she was only 17 years old and was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The judge held that she would be ineligible for asylum in any event because her kidnap, rape and threatened sale into prostitution were merely "personal" and "criminal" acts of a rejected suitor, and not a basis for asylum, despite overwhelming evidence that her treatment is consistent with how traffickers prepare their victims to be trafficked.

I strongly urge you to withdraw your opposition to Ann's appeal and grant her asylum. The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security should clarify that unaccompanied minors and victims of sexual violence suffering from PTSD who have managed to escape persecution, like Ann, should not be precluded from refugee protection by the one-year bar.

Furthermore, I am troubled that DOJ and DHS would seek to deport young women trafficking victims into the hands of their persecutors. The U.S. State Department has chastised the Albanian government for failing to protect girls like Ann from trafficking. The DOJ and DHS should not operate by a double standard. They should publicly recognize that in circumstances like Ann's, the harm of being targeted for trafficking amounts to persecution on account of a gender-defined social group.

Sincerely,

[Your name]
[Your address]
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